Discovery in Lebanon Used to Attack the Bible
A recent genetic discovery was used to attack and discredit the Bible in the media. But when examined closer, the headlines were wrong.
Geneticists recently made a fascinating discovery. The remains of five ancient people who died nearly 4,000 years ago were discovered in Sidon, Lebanon. Geneticists were able to extract DNA from the 3,700-year-old skulls and map their genomes. When they compared the DNA from these ancient peoples with modern Lebanese people, they discovered that they shared 90 percent of their DNA. The scientists are claiming this proves that the modern-day Lebanese are the direct descendants of the ancient Canaanites.
Sadly, most news outlets reporting the story used it as evidence that the Bible is unreliable. Notice some of the headlines:
- The Bible Was WRONG: Civilisation God Ordered to Be KILLED Still Live and Kicking (Express U.K.).
- Bronze Age DNA Disproves the Bible’s Claim that the Canaanites Were Wiped Out: Study Says Their Genes Live on in Modern-Day Lebanese People (The Daily Mail).
- The Bible Got It Wrong: Ancient Canaanites Survived and Their DNA Lives in Modern-Day Lebanese (Pulse Headlines).
- DNA vs the Bible: Israelites Did Not Wipe Out the Canaanites (Cosmos).
Essentially, the media outlets are claiming the Bible says all the Canaanites were destroyed, and the evidence that their descendants live today shows that claim to be inaccurate.
But could it be that the media’s knowledge of the Bible—and not the Bible itself—is what is inaccurate?
What does the Bible actually say about the Canaanites, and especially people of Sidon?
The Bible traces the Canaanites back to one of Noah’s grandsons, Canaan (Genesis 9:18; 10:15-18). Because of their sins, God purposed to give the land of several groups of Canaanites to the descendants of Abraham (Genesis 15:16-21; 17:8). As the above news sources all point out, before entering the Promised Land, God ordered the Israelites to “utterly destroy” the Canaanites who lived in the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 20:17).
But that seems to be where the media stop in their claim that the Bible is false. The problem is they fail to read the rest of the story. Note that the people of Sidon and other Phoenicians were not included in the list of peoples to be destroyed, and they were just outside of the Promised Land (Joshua 19:28). Altogether there are 50 references to Sidon and the Sidonians in both the Old and New Testaments, so it is clearly inaccurate to say that the Bible says the people of Sidon were wiped out.
Christians should understand this world’s antibiblical bias, be aware of it and be on guard against it.And besides that, the Bible does not say that all the Canaanites within the Promised Land were killed either. The book of Joshua covers the Israelite conquest of the land under Joshua’s leadership. The book of Judges provides a summary of what actually happened to the Canaanites:
“However, Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; for the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land. And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites under tribute, but did not completely drive them out.
“Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; so the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.
“Nor did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron or the inhabitants of Nahalol; so the Canaanites dwelt among them, and were put under tribute.
“Nor did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Acco or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, or Rehob. So the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; for they did not drive them out.
“Nor did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh or the inhabitants of Beth Anath; but they dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. Nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath were put under tribute to them” (Judges 1:27-33, emphasis added throughout).
Furthermore, Judges 10:12 shows that the Canaanites living in Sidon (Sidonians) oppressed Israel after the Israelite conquest under Joshua. The Bible does not say that people in this area were completely wiped out, but instead lived in close proximity to the Israelites.
With this knowledge, one news agency did print a weak retraction at the end of its article:
“Correction: The original version of this story erroneously said the Bible claimed the Canaanites were wiped out. However, elsewhere in the Bible, it says the elimination was not successful.”
Why people want to discredit the Bible
Why were news agencies so quick to use this story to attack the Bible?
This prophecy is being fulfilled in our times as “scoffers” relentlessly try to attack and delegitimize God and His Word by any means they can. The Bible also isolates the core motivation behind this trend—people attack God and His Word because they don’t want to believe and obey God and His Word (Romans 1:28).
Christians should understand this world’s antibiblical bias, be aware of it and be on guard against it.